To the bone (2017) – Movie about eating disorders – my thoughts (from an ED sufferer and survivor)

Yesterday i stumbled across the trailer for the To the Bone movie which will be released on Netflix soon. I will not link or promote looking at the trailer if you have an eating disorder because it could be potentially triggering, and this is where my criticism comes in.

I know i wrote that i would not post so much about eating disorders as i am moving on from that, however i could not stop myself from writing this post as i felt i needed to share my thoughts on this from someone who has had an eating disorder and recovered.

After i saw the trailer it left me with a very uncomfortable feeling. I felt strange and couldn’t quite understand why…. i think it is because in those 90 seconds of the trailer i could relate to so much. It was like i was brought back to the girl sitting at the table in the eating disorder clinic with a nurse infront of me forcing me to eat the little i had on my plate. The memories hit me hard and it was uncomfortable and i didn’t want to be reminded. So that is my first note – if you have had an eating disorder or even have an eating disorder and are just trying to move on, then the movie might be too much of a reminder and bring back memories you don’t want and can be triggering.

My second note was that Lily Collins, who plays the main character, was very thin and this can be triggering. Of course, if you have an eating disorder then you need to learn to deal with the fact that people will be different size and shape than you… and you can’t avoid the fact that there will be people who are underweight either due to illness or they are just naturally skinny. It’s best to accept and learn to deal with this and not get triggered by it. HOWEVER i wouldn’t recommend that you choose to watch a movie where you are forcing yourself to watch someone who is underweight which can leave you with negative thoughts if you haven’t yet learnt to deal with that trigger and accept your body size and weight.

Third note, as i haven’t seen the movie i don’t know how the other characters look, but the fact that the main character was very skinny promotes the fact that only people who are very skinny can have anorexia. Though from what i understand to be diagnosed with anorexia one of the criteria is that you have a weight that is below healthy for you. However that doesn’t mean that someone who is normal weight can’t have anorexia, weight loss is just a consequence of the eating disorder. I don’t know how the other characters look in the movie but i am hoping they are all different shapes and sizes to show that people can look normal and healthy and don’t necessarily look sick even if they have an eating disorder. But i feel the movie promotes the idea that a person looks sick and has to be underweight to have an eating disorder.

Also i think the movie may be problematic because it might give “ideas” to people who are sick or beginning to get sick. Also it might reinforce the image of a “stereotypical” eating disorder or promote the image that “this” is how you behave/look/are if you have anorexia, when infact how a person behaves and looks is very individual. However there are certain habits, thoughts, behaviours which are similar among many of those who suffer with the eating disorder even if they didn’t learn the habits anywhere, they just sort of begin out of the fear and eating disorder thoughts. However it is important to remember that you can look and behave healthy but still be sick and struggling and that can almost be more dangerous because those who look and behave like they are sick are almost guaranteed help first compared to those who don’t look or act sick.

I know the series 13 reasons why, got critique for almost glamorizing and/or promoting self harm and depression, however i didn’t think it did either of that. However from just the trailer of To the Bone, i feel like it could do more damage than good – for those suffering anyway.

However maybe the movie might be good for family and friends who know someone who is struggling and can get more of an insight into behaviours or thoughts that the person struggling may have.

Maybe the film will be inspirational and helpful if it shows that the characters recover and get happier and healthier, then maybe that is motivation and help for those who are struggling….. but until i have seen the film (if i do watch it), i don’t know. And it will be very individual how someone interprets the film as triggering or inspirational.

My personal opinion, is don’t watch it if you think you will be triggered. Also DON’T watch the trailer if you are easily triggered or might find yourself comparing.

There needs to be more awareness about eating disorders however i think movies such as this one may be more problematic than helpful even if the intention is good. HOWEVER i haven’t seen the movie so if i do watch it maybe i will write a film review and see what my thoughts are.

I think focus should be on promoting recovery, help, advice and not so much triggering movies that can be seen as glamorizing or giving tips about how to be sick.

Though i did see one person answer some of the critique and they said that in recovery it is important to learn to deal with triggers as you can’t avoid them, however i can say from someone who has been healthy from their eating disorder 4/5 years and is not easily triggered, i don’t personally want to expose myself to a movie that will bring back some of the worst memories of my life and leave me feeling uncomfortable and anxious.


Also remember if you are suffering, always reach out for help! There are people out there who can and will help you, don’t suffer in silence and my first recommendation is ALWAYS to seek professional help!

Always choose life, always choose recovery, always choose health! You can recover and get better!



One Comment Add yours

  1. Louise says:

    I watched the trailer of the movie and it actually made me glad and inspired. Of course the scenes where she is very sick and thin, and faints etc. all those thing brings up bad memories and gave me chills. However, I think they want to picture that it is possible to recover and really show people that there is nothing glamorous about having an eating disorder, because it’s basically a living hell. Some people, young girls especially, have this picture of being really thin and they will be happy and feel good, but that’s not the case when you starve yourself, so if they know more about the consequences about EDs then it might be a bigger chance that they won’t strive for it. At least I don’t get inspired to look like a skeleton, and I hope most people want that either.
    I’m not happy for having had an eating disorder, but in someway it made me stronger and healthier than most people that never had an eating disorder, and even though it was an awful journey to recover it truly is amazing when you are healthy again, and I could recognize that feeling in the end of the trailer and that made me so warm and happy. It is easy to forget what you have been through and what it was like being sick after being recovered for a couple of years. Now it’s hard to believe that that person was me. It feels like everything was only a blur or a dream and that it never actually happened. So for me it brings up a lot of different feeling seeing someone going through the same things as I did, but the main feeling i get is feeling proud. Proud of myself for making the choice to recover and fight through all the hard times when all I wanted was to give up because the anxiety was like the worst nightmare you can ever imagine and I just wanted to disappear from earth. But i didn’t. I never gave up and I never will, and that is something that makes me strong. So I think I’m going to watch the movie! Maybe I will have a different opinion after watching it, but I will watch it with an open mind 🙂
    Also about having anorexia without being skinny.. I think one criteria for being diagnosed with anorexia is that the body weight is less than 85 percent of the weight expected of persons of the same gender and age. Otherwise it is called EDNOS (Eating disorder not otherwise specified). Though I absolutely get your point about ED:s are often pictured as the person being skinny, which doesn’t have to be the case at all.
    This comment happened to be a little longer than expected lol. Guess I have much things to say about this topic! I hope you have a great weekend and good luck with your new blog, hope it feels better for you to write here 🙂 I don’t follow you for reading about eating disorders or food related things, because that doesn’t interest me so much any longer. Food is just a normal part of life and I don’t want to think about food/nutrition/recipes/cooking more than I have to. I have my focus on other things in life that is more important to me and I’m happy about that! I have been following your blog since 2010 I think and I could relate so much to your texts because we have been through many same stages in recovery. So I follow you because I think it is interesting to follow people in there life journeys and see what will happen next 🙂 I’m so happy for your recovery and that you feel better and better for each day. Though I can not really relate to your interest in nutrition and food. All I wanted when I was recovered was to get away from all of that calorie counting, knowing what the food contains, read food labels etc. I think it would be like still having some sort of control or obsession about food, to have it as some sort of comfort zone. Sometimes I stumble across recovered people on Instagram and their whole life still seems to evolve around food and training, walking around with so much muscle and low body fat percentage that it looks like they’re going to compete in fitness contests any day. I don’t want to judge anyone but it does give me thoughts of not being fully recovered. What are your thoughts about this?


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